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January 13, 2014
Syracuse travels to Boston College
In what's likely a dismaying development for the rest of the ACC, Syracuse has turned into one of the best defensive teams in the country in the past two weeks.
The second-ranked Orange will try to remain stingy and improve to 17-0 Monday night as they hit the road to take on Boston College.
Syracuse (16-0, 3-0) has allowed an average of 47.3 points and 37.1 percent shooting in its last four games, using the latest of those efforts to get past visiting North Carolina 57-45 on Saturday.
The Orange shot a season-low 35.0 percent and went 4 of 19 from 3-point range, but held the Tar Heels to their fewest points in a game in 17 seasons. UNC shot 39.2 percent and was 2 of 12 from beyond the arc.
"This was a defensive-effort game," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We got loose balls. We made a lot of really good hustle plays. We got on the floor. That was the difference."
C.J. Fair paced Syracuse with 20 points, and Jerami Grant recorded back-to-back double-doubles for the first time this season with 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
"I think today was one of the first games we really played defense for 40 minutes," sophomore guard Trevor Cooney said. "That was good to see, especially against a good team like UNC. And to beat good teams like that you really need to play defense for 40 minutes. I thought we did a great job of that."
Syracuse will next face a team that's 11th in the ACC in scoring at 70.8 per game and last in points allowed, surrendering an average of 75.2. Boston College (5-11, 1-2), though, performed well enough to earn its first league win Saturday, 62-59 at Virginia Tech.
Junior guard Lonnie Jackson hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 27.4 seconds left and finished with a season-high 17 points while making five shots from beyond the arc. The ACC's second-leading scorer, Olivier Hanlan (19.5 ppg), was the only other Eagle in double figures with 14 points.
"Boston College has lost a lot of games, but they have lost games by one or two points. You don't know what's going to happen, if you don't bring your game you're going to have a tough time," Boeheim said. "We played a good road game against Virginia Tech, and I hope that happens when we play Boston College."
The Eagles have suffered four losses by four points or fewer, including their only other matchup with a ranked team this season. Boston College fell 72-70 to then-No. 18 Connecticut on Nov. 21 at Madison Square Garden.
The Eagles have lost 17 of their last 18 games against Top 25 opponents and eight in a row since a 64-60 victory over No. 15 Florida State on Feb. 8, 2012.
The Orange are the highest-ranked team BC has faced since an 83-63 loss to No. 2 Wake Forest on Jan. 14, 2009.
Boston College has won four of six over Syracuse, but it was the No. 6 team in country during its most recent matchup, a 65-60 victory against the No. 9 Orange in Boston on Feb. 19, 2005 - the Eagles' final season in the Big East.